A few weeks back, the unthinkable happened. In a summer where my average work day was ten-plus hours, I got off shift by 3PM. This had happened – maybe! – three or four times in the last three or four months. It could be more, but I’m not willing to research my “check-ins” to find out. My first instinct on such unicorn days was to make good tea. My second was to find a place to make that tea for me.
Smith Teamaker was usually the answer.
That day, instead of going for my usual first flush Darjeeling mainstay, I looked at a sign in front of me for a “Chai Cola”. I’d seen mentions of it on their Facebook page. Their Masala Chai fused with ginger beer. I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit and ordered it.
I’m not usually a masala chai guy, but when cut with something else, I’m more than willing to admit pompous defeat. That and I’d never tried ginger beer (like a spicy root beer) before. The combination proved to not be overpowering, not too sweet, and only medium spicy. Ginger obviously took point with the added oomph of fizz, but the result was pure refreshment. Not heartburn, which was usually my reaction to heavy ginger.
Alex, the tea-mage behind the Chai Cola recipe came out to “shoot the cuppa” for a moment between tasks. He was one of Smith’s everymen – part sales guy, part tech guru, and an all-around nice guy. Plus, his tea leanings were similar to mine. That being, notching off weird s**t.
In the midst of our usual oddi-“tea” ramblings, Alex asked, “Hey, have you heard of The Snooty Tea Blogger before?”
I racked my brain, going through the list of bloggers I knew. I knew a lot of bloggers. “Uh…no.”
“She’s reviewed a few of our samplers,” Alex continued. “The black tea sampler write-up alone was four pages long.”
“Wha-really?!” I said, feeling…slightly threatened.
“And soooo many puns,” he finished.
I shrugged. “Tea people love their puns.”
(Seriously, we do.)
After about an hour of cola-nursing, I headed home. Who was this mysterious woman who was almost more verbose than I? After some not-so-difficult perusing, I found the person on Twitter. Apparently, we were already following each other. That and we had “circled” each other on Google+. Shows how observant I am.
With the length, polish and puns in the tea articles, I half-expected a woman in her seventies surrounded by hamsters. The eyes on her “About” page said differently.
That and the fact that she had a Tumblr page. No one over the age of thirty had a Tumblr page, nor did they have good use for it. Well, other than Doctor Who GIFs and Harry Potter fan art. Hers featured tea grower profiles and other tea-related minutiae. I could think of no better use for Tumblr. Whoever this gal was, she ran the social media gamut.
Then I found her YouTube channel. I wish I never had.
Five minutes went by.
By that evening, I’d watched all of her videos, save two. And felt slightly warm in my tummy. It wasn’t the oolong I’d just ingested, either.
Aside from Tea For Me Please’s vendor spotlights, The Devotea’s wonderfully eccentric videos, and an English Breakfast vid my brother and I made, I never really used YouTube for tea. The Snooty Tea Person’s videos were about on par with any of the other big-time vloggers on that accursed time-wasting site. That (and obviously)…she was adorable.
In the following days, I perused her other articles. Being the ever-enlightened tea man I am, I took particular notice of her “Sexuali-tea 2013” article. (Oh, like you wouldn’t have looked?!) In it, she provided a wee bit more insight into her interests outside of tea. And I gulped. She was into anime.
So. Not. Fair.
My not-so-inner fanboy squealed with delight, while my brain tried to wrap its tendril-ly gray matter around the concept. Okay, I told myself. The interest here is purely peer professional. Heck, you’ve met A LOT of smart, attractive, and fascinating tea women in the last year. This is just like that.
That little pep talk seemed to work.
One day, I got ready for work in the way I always did. I awoke around 6:30AM, meandered to the kitchen, put the kettle on, and perused the tea tins on the counter. This particular day, I opted for Zen Tara Tea’s Orange Spice Black. It was perhaps the only true Orange Spice blend I’d encountered because it actually had a “spicy” taste to it. Others placed more emphasis on the “orange”, which was fine in some circumstances. This morning, I needed a bit more verve.
I primed my to-go thermos, hopped into the shower, then took the pint of orange-spicy goodness and headed out. It was a good half-hour drive to work, plenty of time to nurse a mug on the road. Not sure why, but on this day, the infusion turned out absolutely perfect. A hard thing for me to admit about a flavored tea.
When I pulled up to my work’s parking lot, I made the following tweet on my phone.
Then I thought back to The Snooty Tea Person’s usual vernacular.